A Sick Leader is not a Great Leader

By | September 6, 2018

[September 6, 2018]  A few years ago I met a young lady working in the IT field and who was unhappy but getting paid very well.  She worked from home, got regular raises, but told me she didn’t want to be a “team leader” because she was sick a bunch.  Disappointed, she quit and went to work elsewhere.  A sick leader cannot be as effective as one who is healthy and always ready.

Being there helps make a leader.  That is why a leader’s health is so fundamentally important that it is often overlooked.  Don’t take care of your body and people notice.  Even if you are physically present, others judge you on your appearance and demeanor.  A sick person simply cannot keep up with those demands of leadership.

Two years ago as the days of the U.S. presidential campaign were coming to a close and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was predicted to win in a landslide, Billionaire Donald Trump toured flooded areas in the state of Louisiana.  The media called this a “stunt” and a “sideshow” to minimize what he had done.  People who lived there did take notice.

Leaders make themselves known to others, give them hope, and show that they are with the people to care for them if needed.  This is what presidential hopeful Donald Trump did at the time despite sophomoric talk from the media and President Barack Obama over Trump’s visit.  After nearly two years in office, now President Trump is hard to keep up with.  He could never do what he does if he was sick or absent from the job.

Leaders are prone to giving less time to their health (less exercise, poor dietary habits, etc.) so they can devote more time to their jobs and family.  This is the wrong thing to do.  All military leaders are reminded that it is of utmost importance they continue to exercise, eat right, and get enough rest; else they will become physically or mentally sick.  I’ve seen it happen over and over.  Lesson learned!  Don’t be a sick leader.

Military history is full of examples when senior leaders were sick and battles were lost.  A great leader is one who is physically present, mentally focused, and prepared.  Sick leaders cannot do this.

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

21 thoughts on “A Sick Leader is not a Great Leader

  1. Joe Omerrod

    I’m another one of those who made this mistake. Please take care of your body and mind, else you will wind up like to many who are in my hospital with terrible physical problems. Just a little advice!

  2. Ronny Fisher

    I made this mistake so many times, I think I’m an expert at stupidity and ignoring basic advice. Now that I”m older, things have changed but only because I learned stuff like this the hard way. My health today is not as good for the same reason and little I can do about it now.

  3. Delf A. "Jelly"

    They teach the same thing in the CIA and FBI. Keep yourself physically strong and (also) mentally awake. If this sounds like the Boy Scouts, it is but everyone should recognize the value in this simple adage.

    1. José Luis Rodriguez

      Thank you Jelly for your service. I’m looking forward to your next article.

    2. Doug Smith

      I’m a big fan of yours too Jelly. Please post another article soon.
      😉 🙂

  4. Kenny Foster

    I chuckled to myself when I read today’s article. So basic but so true. Sometimes we need reminders like this to keep ourselves in better shape to do those things leaders do best … to rally people to a good cause.

  5. Mr. T.J. Asper

    Thanks for a good article. I’m taking Friday and the weekend off and having done this in a while so will be back Monday. Thanks all.

  6. Willie Shrumburger

    This is where maturity comes into play. I see plenty of young Millennials ignoring this good advice and playing games on their cell phones instead of being engaged at the gym or just exercising in their homes.

  7. Dale Paul Fox

    Many of us have stories about how we screwed this up when younger. I recommend we ensure that we tell those coming after us our lessons learned so that they don’t make the same mistakes. In other words, be a good mentor.

  8. Albert Ayer

    Thanks Gen. Satterfield. Another good article for my morning, along with my dog and coffee!

  9. Janna Faulkner

    It wasn’t that long ago I too was a team leader who paid no attention to my health. Besides, I was young and with youth comes some natural protection against the ways we abuse our bodies. Anyway, one day I was sick and the sickness went into several days. By the time I got back to work it took me weeks to get back into the grove. My team was disappointed that I couldn’t keep up and I was nearly fired. Lesson? Stay healthy and don’t take your body for granted.

  10. Nick Lighthouse

    Good article, good comments, good website for learning a bit about leadership.

  11. Greg Heyman

    No one should be surprised by this advice (thank you Gen. Satterfield). But what I do find a little surprising is that people don’t take simple steps to stay healthy like just a few minutes of exercise daily and eating right.

  12. Army Captain

    As a new Platoon Leader my sergeants reminded me early on that they expected me to get plenty of rest and do those things that kept me healthy. They knew that their performance depended on me being well and a good leader.

    1. Andrew Dooley

      I see this advice rarely given to new leaders today.

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